When I put the Faber-Castell Polychromos set on my birthday wishlist this year, my family debated if I needed more pencils. But 'need' was never a criteria for art supplies in my book. It's all about 'want' baby ;-). Luckily my 10-year old niece agrees with my love for beautiful art materials, so my family stuck to my list and spoiled me with the beautiful 120 box. Why I put the Polychromos pencils on my list? I’ll give you all the ins and outs of these pencils in this review.
Let’s talk about quality first
In general the quality of art materials can be divided into 3 categories: hobby-, student- and artist grade. Hobby is great for your kids or when you're just starting out and wanna test the waters with a material. Student grade is perfect if you're a serious hobbyist or (aspiring) artist who likes good materials, but also wants to keep things a bit within budget. Artist grade materials have the best pigment and therefore the best quality, but they obviously come at a price.
Faber-Castell Polychromos fall into the last category. These are high quality pencils! Lovely colors, high on pigment, quality barrel and great packaging. Although the pencils aren’t cheap, I still consider them pretty affordable. The pencils cost about 1,50 to 2 euro each. Which is a lot cheaper if you compare them with - for instance - Caran D’ache Luminance at € 3,75 or Holbein pencils at €4,75 (which I’ll review soon).
The 120 set is the biggest set of Faber-Castell, containing all the Polychromos colors available. I chose the tin box, where the pencils are divided into 3 layers. You could also REALLY spoil yourself and go for the wonderful wooden box, which opens up with all the pencils to see and grab. It’s really fancy, but it also cost about 100 euros extra. For me, that wasn’t worth the investment.
You can easily remove each layer of the tin box with the little handles on the side. On the bottom of each layer they’ve put soft material, so the pencils underneath don’t get damaged. And of course the pencils are in color-coordinated order. This always makes my inner-nerd utterly happy. I spent the rest of the day color swatching all the pencils. In my defense: there wasn’t much else to do when your birthday is during a Corona virus lockdown ;)
Lots of pencils out there are wax-based, but the Faber-Castell Polychromos are oil-based. Although people claim that oil-based pencils have a harder core than wax-based ones, I find the Polychromos really nice and smooth to draw with.
The outside of the pencil has the same color as the colored led does, which comes in handy when picking your colors. With cheaper brands you sometimes find a big difference between the outside color and the actual pigment color, but in case of the Polychromos both colors match really well. Another plus on the list!
On the bottom of the pencil you’ll find a rating of 1, 2 or 3 stars. This indicates the lightfastness: how fast will the color fade when exposed to (sun)light. Most Polychromos pencils have a 2 or 3 star rating, so lightfastness is on point.
Quality look, quality drawing?
Absolutely! With lower quality pencils you might have to add several layers to get the color right. With the Polychromos you have a really nice color application right away. Layering and blending is also a breeze with these pencils. Another plus: a lot of pencils give off quite some residue while coloring, but not the Polychromos! So they are much cleaner to work with.
Well, not really! The only thing I can come up with is the color range. Don’t get me wrong, the colors are really nice and you have a lot to choose from. But even the soft colors are still pretty intense. If Faber-Castell would add more light tones, like greyish colors or pastels, they would make me a very happy girl.
My favorite pencil right now
Dare I say that these are my favorite pencils at the moment? I would, but I don’t want to make my other pencils jealous… So if all my pencils cover their ears for a second, I can tell you.
Yes, these are my current favorites!
Did you put the Polychromos on your wishlist by now?
The good news is that you can buy the pencils in sets and per piece. This way you can always keep your set complete, but you can also easily add favorite colors to your collection.
Curious to find out what other materials my art supplies collection contains? Great, I’m sharing a new review every week! You can find last weeks review (on the Tombow Irojiten) here.
And do you already follow me on Instagram? You can check out the illustrations I make with these materials, plus some cool giveaways from time to time!
If you have any more questions about the Faber-Castell Polychromos, leave me a comment below!
PS The links in this article are affiliate links. Do you want to buy the pencils? It would really help me if you order using these links! It won’t cost you anything extra, but I’ll earn a small percentage of the sales made. Which will help me writing more of these blogs. Thank you so much!